By Mark Richards.
This week it is CES2019 – the Consumer Electronics Show. We look at the products that are making the headlines this year and look back to some of the products unveiled at CES that went on to be part of everyday life. And some that were not quite as successful…
Yesterday was apparently ‘Super Thursday’ in the UK. It was the day on which most of the big retailers reported their Christmas trading figures and – in what after just 10 days is unlikely to be beaten for ‘least surprising headline of the year’ – Marks and Spencer’s and Debenhams reported sales sharply lower. But the gloom was not just confined to those two, as the high street had its worst Christmas for ten years. Throw in the news that Ford is planning to ‘slash thousands of jobs’ and Jaguar Land Rover confirming 4,500 job cuts and it was not so much ‘Super Thursday’ as pretty-damn-depressing Thursday.
But it is the weekend. We need some good news so, in search of a rather more entertaining end to the week let’s leave the UK and head off to sunnier climes. Specifically, to Las Vegas which this week is hosting CES2019.
What is CES2019?
CES stands for Consumer Electronics Show: it is the show where manufacturers and developers showcase their latest products and innovations – the ones that are going to change our lives. The show started back in 1967 when it was held in New York: previously developments in consumer electronics had been showcased at the Chicago Music Show. Although CES was initially moved around the US by 1998 it had found a permanent home in Las Vegas. It now attracts around 200,000 trade visitors, takes 18 days to set up, exhibit and dismantle and gives us a first look at the products that we simply must have…
What are the hot products this year?
As it always does, CES features some astonishing products this year. Love the smell of fresh bread in the morning? Then you will have to find room for the Breadbot in your life. Breadbot can produce a loaf of fresh bread every six minutes – almost as fast as a teenage boy can eat one.
…And speaking of teenagers, anyone with a family should probably just watch the Foldimate in action and immediately place an order. How many family arguments would that solve?
But if automatically folding your family’s clothes is not enough to impress your friends, then you could also spend $8,000 (around £6,300) on a ‘smart toilet,’ featuring lighting, surround sound and an automatic seat warmer. Your smart toilet can also speak to you via the Alexa app.
You know what? Given that Alexa does have previous for broadcasting your conversations to your friends, I think we might pass on that one…
CES – the greatest hits album
Looking back over the years that have been some really groundbreaking products unveiled at CES. Here are some of the show’s greatest hits from the last very-nearly 50 years.
1970 – Philips unveiled the first ever home Video Cassette Recorder (VCR). Until then VCRs cost upwards of $50,000 and were used mainly by TV stations. The Philips model was just $900: adjusted for inflation that is around $5,800 today – the equivalent of £4,500
1979 – the Atari 400 and 800 computers were launched
1982 – saw the first appearance of the Commodore 64. Surely computers could never get more advanced than this?
2004 – the Blu Ray Group held a press conference to promote the Blu Ray disc format
2005 – Bill Gates used his opening keynote address to demonstrate the Windows Media Centre. It crashed during his presentation, treating the audience to the Blue Screen of Death
2008 – Panasonic grabbed the headlines as they released a 150” Plasma TV, and a 50” TV that was just half an inch thick
2010 – Parrot presented a prototype of the AR Drone, a small, remote-controlled helicopter you could fly yourself. Sadly there was no-one from Gatwick Airport taking notes…
2013 – Samsung announced the Galaxy-S2 smartphone and unveiled multi-view TVs
2014 – Pebble announced the (now discontinued) Pebble Steel smartwatch
2017 – two Razer triple-screen gaming laptops were stolen during the show, as CES became the home to not just innovation but also industrial espionage
2018 – was all about wireless technology and a Las Vegas strip club introduced delegates to the world’s first robot strippers.
What about the turkeys?
Inevitably, not every product unveiled at CES has gone on to be a ground-breaking, life-changing, multi-million dollar success. There have been a few turkeys along the way…
1996 – Apple launched the Pippin, its bold bid to gain a foothold in the gaming market. Launched with Japanese company Bandai it cost $600 – now around $1,000 (£780) – and was a colossal failure. It cost Apple its chance to get into the console gaming market just as it was nearing its peak.
2003 – the Microsoft Spot Smartwatch. Back in 2003, you could carry around your Blackberry, your PDA and your MP3 player without people thinking you were insane. Microsoft’s idea was to integrate these devices via a Smartwatch. The service cost $60 a year and was only available in 100 cities. Then wi-fi dramatically improved and Apple invented the iPhone…
2011 – the Motorola Xoom. Not only voted best tablet at CES but the best overall product. The Motorola Xoom was the future of the tablet. But as parts of Motorola were sold to Google, the Zoom has struggled to sell a million units in its entire life. The iPad sold a million units in its first weekend.
And finally – anything else for 2019?
Yes, just as in 2018 sex was very definitely on the menu for this year. The winner of the ‘robotics and drones’ category was a sex toy for women. Organisers then disqualified it for being ‘immoral, obscene and indecent,’ immediately embroiling this year’s CES in claims of sexism and chauvinism.
Sadly – or fortunately, depending on your perspective – no link is available. Enjoy your weekend…